August 2015 Bulletin

by Prasad Krishna last modified Oct 27, 2015 12:25 AM

We are happy to share with you the eighth issue of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) newsletter (August 2015). The past editions of the newsletter can be accessed at


  • Researchers at Work programme has published a book titled Digital Activism in Asia Reader exploring in detail digital activism in Asia. The Reader was edited by Nishant Shah, P.P. Sneha, and Sumandro Chattapadhyay with support from Anirudh Sridhar, Denisse Albornoz, and Verena Getahun.
  • NVDA team conducted a workshop at Jeevan Jyoti School for the Blind, Varanasi from August 26 to 28, 2015. Eighty five students and 13 teachers took part in the training programme. NVDA team had conducted another workshop earlier in Nashik. The workshop was conducted in June. A batch of 17 Special Educators and teachers of the blind attended the workshop.
  • Maggie Huang, Arpita Sengupta and Paavni Anand as part of the Pervasive Technologies project co-authored a research paper that seeks to compare the publicly available information on the websites of music collective management organizations ("CMOs") operating within India, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
  • Amulya Purushothama, Nehaa Chaudhari and Varun Baliga in a blog entry have delved into the question of what the mandate of the Sectoral Innovation Council is, what its activities are, and what vision for IPR development in India has it put forth. An RTI Application has been filed by CIS to attain information on these issues.
  • In a blog post, Amulya Purushothama announced our new MHRD IPR Chair Series and has charted the sequence of events, starting from the establishment of MHRD IPR Chairs, to discussions surrounding their purpose and functioning, to concerns surrounding the lack of information about the IPR Chairs, the first round of RTIs that CIS had filed in regard to this and the responses it solicited.
  • Subhashish Panigrahi interviewed Prateek Pattanaik. Prateek has not just digitized as many as 54 Odia-language poetry dating early 18th century but has also annotated, both poetic and prosaic translation in his blogs "Sri Jagannatha" and "Utkal Sangeet". He has also published a complete book "Kisora chandranana champu" on Odia Wikisource. A recent entrant into the Odia Wikimedia community, Prateek is also the youngest Odia Wikimedian.
  • Rohan George and Elonnai Hickok in a blog post analyzed consent, big data and data protection that examines in detail why the principle of consent is providing us increasingly less of an aegis in protecting our data.
  • Elonnai Hickok, Vipul Kharbanda and Vanya Rakesh on behalf of CIS submitted a clause-by-clause comments on the Human DNA Profiling Bill that was circulated by the Department of Biotechnology on June 9, 2015.
  • Sunil Abraham, Elonnai Hickok and Tarun Krishnakumar co-authored an article titled Security: Privacy, Transparency and Technology. The article was published by Observer Research Foundation, Digital Debates 2015: CyFy Journal Volume 2.
  • Elonnai Hickok in a blog post titled A Review of the Policy Debate around Big Data and Internet of Things has done an analysis as to how regulators and experts across jurisdictions are reacting to Big Data and Internet of Things.
  • The Supreme Court of India has deemed it fit to refer the question of the very existence of a fundamental right to privacy to a Constitution Bench to finally decide the matter, and define the contours of such right if it does exist. Vipul Kharbanda analyses this in a blog entry.
  • Experts and regulators across jurisdictions are examining the impact of Big Data practices on traditional data protection standards and principles. This will be a useful and pertinent exercise for India to undertake as the government and the private and public sectors begin to incorporate and rely on the use of Big Data in decision making processes and organizational operations. Elonnai Hickok has provided an initial evaluation of how Big Data could impact India's current data protection standards.

Accessibility and Inclusion

Under a grant from the Hans Foundation we are doing a project on developing text-to-speech software for 15 Indian languages. The progress made so far in the project can be accessed here. The project on creating a national resource kit of state-wise laws, policies and programmes on issues relating to persons with disabilities in India got over and the compilation has been printed.

NVDA and eSpeak

Monthly Updates

Event Reports

  • Training in eSpeak Marathi (Organized by NVDA team; National Association for the Blind; Nashik; June 22 - 23, 2015). The workshop was held in the month of June but the report got published later in August.
  • Training in eSpeak Hindi (Organized by NVDA team; Jeevan Jyoti School for the Blind; Varanasi; August 26 - 28, 2015).

Access to Knowledge

As part of the Access to Knowledge programme we are doing two projects. The first one (Pervasive Technologies) under a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is for research on the complex interplay between pervasive technologies and intellectual property to support intellectual property norms that encourage the proliferation and development of such technologies as a social good. The second one (Wikipedia) under a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation is for the growth of Indic language communities and projects by designing community collaborations and partnerships that recruit and cultivate new editors and explore innovative approaches to building projects.

Pervasive Technologies

Blog Entries

Other (Copyright and Patent)

Blog Entries

Media Coverage


As part of the project grant from the Wikimedia Foundation we have reached out to more than 3500 people across India by organizing more than 100 outreach events and catalysed the release of encyclopaedic and other content under the Creative Commons (CC-BY-3.0) license in four Indian languages (21 books in Telugu, 13 in Odia, 4 volumes of encyclopaedia in Konkani and 6 volumes in Kannada, and 1 book on Odia language history in English).

Blog Entry

Events Co-organized


Participation in Events

Media Coverage

CIS gave its inputs to the following:

Internet Governance

As part of its research on privacy and free speech, CIS is engaged with two different projects. The first one (under a grant from Privacy International and International Development Research Centre (IDRC)) is on surveillance and freedom of expression (SAFEGUARDS). The second one (under a grant from MacArthur Foundation) is on studying the restrictions placed on freedom of expression online by the Indian government.




Blog Entries

Big Data

Blog Entries

Participation in Event

Free Speech and Expression


Cyber Security

Upcoming Event

  • Bangalore Chapter Meet of DSCI (Co-organized by DSCI and CIS; September 26, 2015). Melissa Hathaway, Commissioner, Global Commission for Internet Governance and Sunil Abraham will be speaking at this event.


CIS is involved in promoting access and accessibility to telecommunications services and resources and has provided inputs to ongoing policy discussions and consultation papers published by TRAI. It has prepared reports on unlicensed spectrum and accessibility of mobile phones for persons with disabilities and also works with the USOF to include funding projects for persons with disabilities in its mandate:


  • Those Dropped Calls (Shyam Ponappa; Business Standard; August 5, 2015 and Organizing India Blogspot; August 6, 2015).

Researchers at Work

The Researchers at Work (RAW) programme is an interdisciplinary research initiative driven by contemporary concerns to understand the reconfigurations of social practices and structures through the Internet and digital media technologies, and vice versa. It is interested in producing local and contextual accounts of interactions, negotiations, and resolutions between the Internet, and socio-material and geo-political processes:


  • Digital Activism in Asia Reader (edited by Nishant Shah, P.P. Sneha, and Sumandro Chattapadhyay, with support from Anirudh Sridhar, Denisse Albornoz, and Verena Getahun; August 8, 2015).

Books Chapters

Accepted Paper Abstract

Blog Entries

News & Media Coverage

CIS gave its inputs to the following media coverage:

About CIS

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) is a non-profit organisation that undertakes interdisciplinary research on internet and digital technologies from policy and academic perspectives. The areas of focus include digital accessibility for persons with diverse abilities, access to knowledge, intellectual property rights, openness (including open data, free and open source software, open standards, open access, open educational resources, and open video), internet governance, telecommunication reform, digital privacy, and cyber-security. The academic research at CIS seeks to understand the mediation and reconfiguration of social and cultural processes and structures by the internet and digital media technologies.

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► Request for Collaboration:

We invite researchers, practitioners, artists, and theoreticians, both organisationally and as individuals, to engage with us on topics related internet and society, and improve our collective understanding of this field. To discuss such possibilities, please write to Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, at [email protected] (for policy research), or Sumandro Chattapadhyay, Research Director, at [email protected] (for academic research), with an indication of the form and the content of the collaboration you might be interested in. To discuss collaborations on Indic language Wikipedia projects, write to Tanveer Hasan, Programme Officer, Access to Knowledge, at [email protected].

CIS is grateful to its primary donor the Kusuma Trust founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin for its core funding and support for most of its projects. CIS is also grateful to its other donors, Wikimedia Foundation, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and IDRC for funding its various projects.

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